Aspen Shortsfest announces program for in-person festival
Oscar-qualifying short film festival returns to Wheeler after two virtual years
Aspen Shortsfest will screen 77 short films across six days at the Wheeler Opera House in April as the festival returns to in-person screenings after two years of virtual-only events.
Aspen Film, which is producing the 31st annual festival, announced the selected films and program details on Thursday.
“What a wonderful recharge after two virtual years, to be back in person at our festival home, the historic Wheeler Opera House,” Aspen Film executive and artistic director Susan Wrubel said in the announcement. “Once again, our programming team has assembled some of the most dynamic, innovative, and thought-provoking short films of the year to showcase for Aspen and valley-wide audiences.”
The 2022 slate includes nine world premieres and an international selection representing 28 countries.
The 77 in-competition films were chosen from a competitive field of about 3,000 submissions. More than half of the chosen films – 41 of them – are directed or co-directed by women, continuing the festival’s goal of reaching gender equity behind the camera.
The films include many stars and established talents along with emerging filmmakers and performers. Among the most prominent films are the horror film “Skin & Bone,” directed by Eli Powers and co-produced by “Mamma Mia!” star Amanda Seyfried, which will have its world premiere at the festival. “Shark,” a dark comedy set on the water, stars “Bridesmaids” actress Rose Byrne and will have its U.S. premiere here. The COVID-19 quarantine-set satire “White Devil” stars and ins co-directed by Mariama Diallo, the filmmaker behind Sundance darling “Master.”
Brat Pack icon Molly Ringwald narrates “A Brief History of Us,” which is directed by the acclaimed novelist Etgar Keret. Other familiar faces on-screen include “Station Eleven” star Hamish Patel in “Enjoy” and “Succession” actor Peter Friedman in “Daddy’s Girl.”
Director Walter Thompson-Hernandez’s “If I Go Will They Miss Me,” which won the U.S. Fiction short prize at Sundance, is also in the program.
The Shortsfest programming team is led by director Jason Anderson, who noted the “depth and diversity of talent” in the 2022 program.
“We’re astounded by the strength and resilience these directors have shown in the face of all the recent challenges and are so excited to be able to present their films in person,” he said in the announcement.
The juried festival will give awards and cash prizes in nine categories. This year’s jurors include TK.
An Oscar-qualifying festival for winners in animation, documentary, and live-action narrative short film categories, Shortsfest has for decades been a proving ground for emerging filmmakers. It included early work from directors like Reinaldo Marcus Green (“King Richard), Dustin Daniel Cretton (“Shang-Chi”), Damien Chazelle (“La La Land”), Jason Reitman (“Up in the Air”), Sara Polley (“Stories We Tell”) and Jean-Marc Vallée (“Big Little Lies”).
The festival also regularly helps mint Oscar nominees, including 2022 Best Animated Short nominee “Affairs of the Art” by Joanna Quinn and Les Mills, which won the 2021 Shortsfest Best Comedy prize.
Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test will be required for attendance. There will be no virtual access to the festival. Single tickets will go on-sale for the general public on March 22 (on March 16 for Aspen Film members). Pre-sale festival passes are on-sale now for $250 at aspenfilm.org
The fill lineup of selected films for Aspen Shortsfest 2022:
AERONAUT – Directed by Leon Golterman (Netherlands)
This ultra-short, lovingly made stop-motion animation is about ten-year-old Kevin, who is growing up in a family with a tyrannical father. He wants to escape from this situation and dreams of becoming a pilot, finally leaving it all behind him – literally – with his little sister Jaimy.
ALLOWED – Directed by Zillah Bowes (UK)
Weeds aren’t just weeds. They’re like friends. During the first wave of COVID-19, plants and flowers are allowed to grow wild. Using 3D animated photos, “Allowed” lyrically re-examines our relationship with urban plant life in the urgent context of biodiversity loss and climate crisis.
ANXIOUS BODY – Directed by Yoriko Mizushiri (Japan/France)
Living things, artificial things, geometric shapes, and lines. When these different things encounter each other, a new direction is born.
ASTEL – Directed by Ramata-Toulaye SY (Senegal/France)
It’s October, the end of the rainy season in Fouta, an isolated region in the north of Senegal. Astel, 13, accompanies her father every day in the bush. Together, they look after their herd of cows. But one day, in the middle of the desert, the meeting between the young girl and a shepherd disrupts the peaceful daily life between Astel and her father.
AUNTIE – Directed by Fawzia Mirza (US)
The day after meeting a crew of 20-somethings at a South Asian happy hour, 39-year-old Hena is thrown into their group text.
BEITY – Directed by Isabelle Mecattaf (Lebanon/US)
Roula is a rich woman living in a lavish house in Batroun, Lebanon. Today is the first day of winter break, and she anxiously awaits her daughter’s return home. When Leila, the housekeeper’s daughter, returns home alone, Roula becomes jealous and erratic and acts out against the household staff.
BELLE RIVER – Directed by Guillaume Fournier, Samuel Matteau, Yannick Nolin (US/Canada)
Spring flooding in Mississippi hits record highs. In Louisiana, the residents of Pierre-Part are preparing for the worst. Barring an unexpected turn of events, local authorities will soon be forced to open the floodgates of the Morganza Spillway in order to save the cities of New Orleans and Bâton-Rouge from further uncontrolled flooding. Faith and resilience are the two best weapons they still have in the face of uncertainty.
BOOBS – Directed by Marie Valade (Canada)
A young woman is confronted with the birth of paper breasts on her body. “Boobs” is both a comic and dark journey that explores a woman’s love-hate relationship with her body and her femininity. It highlights the powerful symbolism that breasts evoke for everyone.
BOTTLE CAP – Directed by Marie Hyon, Marco Spier (US)
Size matters to a fiddler crab – claw size, that is. And it’s a problem for Shelton. When a plastic bottle cap stands in for his worthless digging claw, Shelton believes he is about to become a god. But for a crab who hated being different and instead dreamt of being “just average,” this kind of glory will come at a horrible cost.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF US – Directed by Etgar Keret (Poland)
When you are in a relationship for a long time, you sometimes feel you are no longer an individual, but a part of a superorganism. Your daily routine, the decisions you make, the music you hear, and the air you breathe: it’s hard to tell the difference between my choices and our choices.
A CARTOON OF A CAT SLEEPING – Directed by Randall Scott Christopher (US)
A 7-minute comedy that unfolds entirely in one shot with no edits, cuts, or camera movements. As the story gets more and more chaotic, one big question looms: Will the cat ever wake up?
CAT AND BIRD – Directed by Franka Sachse (Germany)
Two opposing characters – cat and bird – bump into each other. This encounter makes them realize the deep connection to their individual backgrounds, that they are defined by the world they come from and that both of them constantly carry their background with them. Despite this recognition – or even due to this – they show interest in each other. They are drawn towards each other. They sniff each other, meet, come closer and get familiar with each other’s world. And finally, they find the right balance between both worlds.
CAT AND MOTH – Directed by India Barnardo (Canada/UK)
We meet Ditto, a fluffy white cat. However, the universe seems out to get her as she tries to find the most comfortable spot to take her nap. She finally falls upon the most wonderful warm yellow cushion she’s ever pounced upon. No spot has ever been so comfortable. However, a fuzzy winged intruder, Monty, has his eye on it too. Monty is by no way bashful in disturbing Ditto’s slumber. Monty will go to any lengths to knock Ditto from that comfy spot, but at what consequence?
CHARLOTTE – Directed by Zach Dorn (US)
In 1971, folk singer Lena Black released her song, “Charlotte.” Fifty years later, a pop singer, T.Y.M., releases a cover. Charlotte follows the fall-out of this pop song on the lives of the Black family, including Lena, her daughter Diane, and her 11-year-old grandson, Eli. Charlotte was written, built, and animated in the director’s Los Angeles bedroom in 2021.
CHILLY & MILLY – Directed by William David Caballero (US)
Eleven years after filming a documentary about his family, director William D. Caballero returns home to revisit scenes from his documentary with his parents, Chilly and Milly. Chilly, William’s father, is a diabetic with kidney failure, whose illness detrimentally affects his and his family’s lives. Milly sees her sole purpose in life as taking care of her loved ones. While watching the documentary, Chilly and Milly discuss their life together, and their successes and setbacks in life. When Chilly passes away during the pandemic, Milly comes to terms with her loss.
CONDUCTING LIFE – Directed by Diane Moore (US/France)
Filmed over seven years, “Conducting Life” follows the improbable journey of conductor Roderick Cox and his quest to succeed in the highly competitive field of orchestral conducting, a profession that has traditionally overlooked musicians of color like Cox.
CRUMB – Directed by Josh Cohen (US)
It’s April 2020. For one man, all there is to obsess over is whether or not the seemingly endless barrage of food crumbs, loose cat litter, and floor dirt are being properly cleaned up and disposed of. But when an important tool in the management of those crumbs is taken away, an inevitable journey inwards appears to be the only path towards finding peace with the world and more importantly, oneself.
DADDY’S GIRL – Directed by Lena Hudson (US)
A young woman’s charming but overbearing father helps her move out of her wealthy, older boyfriend’s apartment.
DEAR MAMA… – Directed by Winter Dunn (US)
In 1996 South L.A., Tanisha mourns the loss of her mom. Her dad, Nate, packs up her mom’s belongings for charity. He wants to leave the past behind, uncertain of how to deal with a heartbroken teenager. When they hear of Tupac’s death, their confrontation reaches a boiling point. Tanisha wants to attend Tupac’s vigil but is challenged by Nate until he is forced to see people grieve in different ways.
DEERWOODS DEATHTRAP – Directed by James P Gannon (US)
While on a trip to Cape May, New Jersey in 1971, Jack and Betty survived an accident that not many other humans have…they were hit by a train. Not only did they survive, but their 4-year-old son, infant daughter, and elderly Mother survived the crash as well. Fifty years later, they return to the scene of the accident to recount their conflicting memories.
THE DIAMOND – Directed by Vedran Rupic (Sweden)
Stefan is lonely with a blinding ambition to make friends. One day he stumbles upon a diamond in the woods. Unable to reach it, the solution presents itself in the form of an even smaller man.
DISPLACED – Directed by Samir Karahoda (Kosovo)
Driven by the ambition of keeping their beloved sport alive, two local players in post-war Kosovo wander from one obscure location to another carrying with them the only possession of the club: their tables.
DON VS LIGHTNING – Directed by Big Red Button (UK)
When Don, an elderly Scottish grump, finds himself the victim of multiple lightning strikes, he begins to worry that his quiet, orderly life may never be the same again. It’s hard to tell what he finds more uncomfortable: sadistic persecution by a capricious universe or the concerned attention of the people in his town.
DRESS UP – Directed by Karina Dandashi (US)
On the eve of her sister’s wedding, Karina brings her “best friend” home to meet the family. When the groom-to-be joins them, she is reminded of her family’s expectations and her queer anxieties begin to unravel. DRESS UP blurs the line between fiction and reality. Starring the director and her real-life sister, the film weaves their home videos into the intimate narrative.
DRUMMIES – Directed by Jessie Zinn (South Africa/US)
“Drummies” tells the story of the underground, highly competitive glitzy world of primary school drum majorettes: a sport that meets at the intersection of cheerleading and marching band processions. Originally brought to the streets of Cape Town in the 1920s, the sport has grown in popularity amongst youth, dominating public schools all over South Africa. Through sport and community, the girls find meaning and purpose that helps to keep them focused, and away from violence on the streets around them. In the heat of a slow Summer School holiday, we follow a team that anxiously awaits for COVID regulations to be lifted to allow them to go back to practicing a sport that shapes and defines their lives.
EGÚNGÚN (MASQUERADE) – Directed by Olive Nwosu (Nigeria/UK)
Salewa must return home for her mother’s funeral to Lagos, a place where she once had to hide. At the funeral, she runs into an important person in her past, as she’s forced to go in search of her own peace. EGÚNGÚN is a meditation on home, memory, and identity – on the many versions of ourselves that haunt us.
ENJOY – Directed by Saul Abraham (UK)
Unable to honestly verbalize his problems, Michael (Himesh Patel) is searching for a way out of his spiraling depression. Retreating further and further into his own shell, his girlfriend Katie (Maddy Hill) repeatedly implores him to adopt a more positive mindset to no avail. It’s not until his fractious relationship with a student, Archibald (Tom Sweet), comes to a head that he’s finally able to see a reason to hope. “Enjoy” is an offbeat exploration of masculinity, men’s mental health, and how societal stereotypes surrounding depression in men manifest themselves across different generations.
ERRATUM – Directed by Giulio Callegari (France)
Florence, a teacher, and researcher uncovers with astonishment an anachronistic engraving – in modern French – on a Gallo-Roman fresco she just dug up. When she realizes this engraving is really from antiquity, her rationality is put to the test.
F^¢K ‘€M R!GHT B@¢K – Directed by Harris Doran (US)
A queer Black aspiring Baltimore rapper must outwit his vengeful day-job boss in order to avoid getting fired after accidentally eating an edible.
FANMI – Directed by Sandrine Brodeur-Desrosiers, Carmine Pierre-Dufour (Canada)
Heartbroken following a break-up, Martine receives the unexpected visit of her mother, Monique. Too engrossed in her own sadness, Martine doesn’t notice right away that her mother is hiding something but a bad feeling starts to take hold of her. During this short stay, these two very different women will have one last chance to get closer to one another before they run out of time.
FARRUCAS – Directed by Ian de la Rosa (Spain/US)
Four teenagers from a marginal suburb in Almería, Spain, who are proud of their Moroccan-Spanish background will see their self-confidence and friendship put to the test on one of their 18th birthdays.
FOOTSTEPS ON THE WIND – Directed by Maya Sanbar (UK/Brazil/US)
This animation follows the plight of Noor and her little brother, Josef as they journey far away from home, orphaned from a devastating earthquake. The story highlights the tragic stories of unaccompanied child refugees, of which there are over 400,000 in the world today. The story blends harsh reality and tragedy with resilience as we follow the children’s magical imagination through loss and recovery.
FOR LOVE – Directed by Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor (UK)
An illegal immigrant, Nkechi lives happily in the shadows with her partner Martha. But when immigration officers turn up unexpectedly, they have to make difficult decisions about their future together.
FREEDOM SWIMMER – Directed by Olivia Martin-McGuire (France/Australia)
The story of a grandfather’s perilous swim from China to Hong Kong parallels his granddaughter’s own quest for new freedom.
FURTHER AND FURTHER AWAY – Directed by Polen Ly (Cambodia/Germany)
A young indigenous Bunong woman and her older brother spend one last day in their rural village in northeastern Cambodia before an impending move to the capital city in search of a more prosperous life.
GOODBYE JEROME! – Directed by Gabrielle Selnet, Adam Sillard, Chloé Farr (France)
Having just arrived in paradise, Jerome sets out to find his wife Maryline. In the course of his search, he sinks into a surreal and colorful world in which no one seems to be able to help him.
HANGING ON – Directed by Alfie Barker (UK)
A creative documentary spotlighting the strength of community, in a neighborhood, united when faced with eviction. In Oulton, Leeds, an old coal-mining community of over 60 houses still stands. Originally made as temporary council housing, but sold onto private investors, they now sit with the threat of demolition, displacing a large number of residents, some of who have lived there all of their lives. Featuring a combination of audio interviews and artistic visuals we discover the stories of a close community of residents, their sentimental memories, and the stress and uncertainty of an ongoing campaign to save their homes.
HUELLA – Directed by Gabriela Ortega (US)
Daniela Garcia, a Dominican flamenco dancer stuck in a job she hates, learns one day that her grandmother, Leonora, has passed. The death unleashes generational trauma that manifests in Dani’s life, like a haunting curse. Thus, Dani is forced to face her family demons and her own fears by experiencing the five stages in an unexpected, time-bending journey. This genre-bending asks us to meet eye-to-eye with loss and allow ourselves to feel the many nuances of grief through movement.
I LIVE HERE – Directed by Tyler Evans (Canada)
A skeptical white man interrogates a non-compliant Black university student named James about whether he lives in their shared building or not.
IF I GO, WILL THEY MISS ME – Directed by Walter Thompson-Hernández (US)
On January 14th, 2020, a Delta Airlines Boeing 777 jetliner headed to LAX dumped jet fuel on several Southeast Los Angeles elementary schools. In spite of these dangers, Lil’ Ant’s twelve-year-old imagination is boundless. He is fascinated by Pegasus, the Greek mythological creature. He dreams of flying like him and sees a mysterious group of airplane people who come out to fly every evening. Big Ant sees them too. Big Ant begins to see his son’s interest in flying grow just like he once did when he was his son’s age. He understands that Lil Ant will be flying soon, urging him to bless his son’s upcoming flight with a father’s prayer meant for him and the entire community.
IN NATURE – Directed by Marcel Barelli (Switzerland)
You may not be aware of it, but homosexuality isn’t just a human story.
JENSEN – Directed by Chloe Sarbib (US)
Georgia is stepping into the spotlight. After years of writing songs for the band Jensen, named for original frontwoman Nina Jensen, she’s singing lead vocals at a big gig tonight. But everyone — especially Alden, her bandmate — seems to want her to be… well, more like Nina. Every moment leading up to the show, from soundcheck to makeup, is haunted by the presence of Nina — who was also Georgia’s best friend. Torn between honoring Nina and being herself, Georgia must decide what version of her will take the stage.
L’AMOUR EN PLAN – Directed by Claire Sichez (France)
After 20 years of living together, Carine, Fabrice, and their son Simon have a well-ordered daily life. While Carine is restricted to household chores, Fabrice spends his time watching television. Each in a different space, their eyes no longer meet.
THE MARTHA MITCHELL EFFECT – Directed by Anne Alvergue, Debra McClutchy (US)
She was once as famous as Jackie O. And then she tried to take down a President. “The Martha Mitchell Effect” is an archival documentary portrait of the unlikeliest of whistleblowers: Martha Mitchell, a Republican cabinet wife who was gaslighted by the Nixon Administration to keep her quiet. It offers a female gaze on Watergate through the voice of the woman herself.
MEMOIR OF A VEERING STORM – Directed by Sofia Georgovassili (Greece)
It is a morning in September. A storm is about to break. Α mother drives a girl to school in the morning and picks up a woman at the end of the school day. Anna, a 15-year-old girl sneaks out of school, and with the help of her boyfriend, they visit a hospital. There, she has to face an event that will jolt her into adulthood.
MUM IS POURING RAIN – Directed by Hugo de Faucompret (France)
Tenacious 8-year-old Jane is sent to spend Christmas at her grandmother’s. Her mother is going through a depression, but Jane is too young to understand. Against all odds, the holidays turn out to be an adventure. As she opens up to new friends, she’ll find that life can be a feast, if she lets it.
MY GRANDMOTHER IS AN EGG – Directed by Wu-Ching Chang (UK/Taiwan)
My grandmother was a T’ung-yang-hsi. It is a traditional practice of pre-arranged marriage in East Asia, selling a young girl to another family to be raised as a future daughter-in-law in productive roles. From personal witness to the general phenomenon in society, the film aims to reflect upon women’s oppression and struggle for freedom. The audiences may glimpse the past, imagine women’s situation, and look forward to striving for real gender equality in the future. Eggs are fragile, but at the same time though.
MY MOM’S EGGPLANT SAUCE – Directed by Shaina Feinberg (US)
Filmmaker Shaina Feinberg’s mom Mary had an abusive relationship with her own mother. She also happens to make a delicious eggplant ragout. Shaina explores the connection between this recipe and a traumatic experience revolving around Mary’s first marriage. While filming this short documentary, Shaina and Mary’s own relationship seeped through.
NALUJUK NIGHT – Directed by Jennie Williams (Canada)
An up-close look at an exhilarating, and sometimes terrifying Labrador Inuit tradition. Every January 6 from the dark of the Nunatsiavut night, the Nalujuit appear on the sea ice. They walk on two legs yet their faces are animalistic, skeletal, and otherworldly. Snow crunches underfoot as they approach their destination: the Inuit community of Nain. Despite the frights, Nalujuk Night is a beloved annual event, showing that sometimes it can be fun to be scared. Rarely witnessed outside of Nunatsiavut, this annual event is an exciting chance for Inuit, young and old, to prove their courage and come together as a community to celebrate culture and tradition.
NAYA – Directed by Sebastian Mulder (Netherlands)
This short documentary follows the life of Naya, a wolf that walked from Germany to Belgium tagged with a GPS collar. The first wolf in Belgium in a hundred years, she suddenly makes headlines – but then her presence takes a mysterious turn. This voyeuristic visual collage of wildlife and surveillance camera imagery captivatingly explores the relationship between humans and this iconic wild animal.
NUISANCE BEAR – Directed by Jack Weisman, Gabriela Osio Vanden (Canada)
Churchill, Manitoba is famous as an international destination for photographing polar bears. We’ve seen the majestic images and classic wildlife series captured here, but what do these bears see of us? Through a shift in perspective this documentary reveals an obstacle course of tourist paparazzi and wildlife officers whom bears must navigate during their annual migration.
OUSMANE – Directed by Jorge Camarotti (Canada)
Feeling uprooted and looking for a purpose, Ousmane, a newly arrived Burkinabé immigrant living in Montreal, sees his life take a turn when he meets an elderly, disoriented lady, Edith, at the end of a long workday. After learning about Edith’s terrible living conditions but not fully understanding what the task entails, he naively decides to take on the role of her caregiver as if she was his own mother.
PARACLETE – Directed by Matias Maumus, Tomas Maumus (Argentina)
Ricardo is set to play Jesus in a small-town biblical reenactment. While he is crossing the countryside in a hurry to make it on time, he’ll crash upon a dilemma in this dark comedy about disappointment, lies, faith, hope, and those religious stories we’ve been told as children. Do miracles exist? It’ll always be hard to say, as long as humans are involved.
SATURDAY NIGHT – Directed by Rosana Matecki (Canada)
Filmed in Spanish and narrated by filmmaker Rosana Matecki, this documentary essay offers a poetic and bittersweet snapshot of aging in an urban setting, viewed through the lens of dance. An immersive soundscape and a delicate tempo set the mood for this intimate exploration of resilience and nostalgia.
SHARK – Directed by Nash Edgerton (Australia)
Completing the trilogy of wickedly dark comedy shorts that began with “Spider” and “Bear,” Nash Edgerton finds a perfect match in Rose Byrne as Sofie, a woman who loves pranks just as much as Jack, Edgerton’s on-screen alter ego. Alas, the couple’s quest to outdo each other may lead to the most outrageous calamity of all.
SHE DREAMS AT SUNRISE – Directed by Camrus Johnson (US)
Gerry lives a monotonous, daily routine led by her optimistic great-nephew and caretaker. Although he tries to make her smile, she’s rarely in the mood. Gerry’s already found her new source of joy but she can’t access it while awake.
SIERRA – Directed by Sander Joon (Estonia)
A father and his son are losing the folk race. In order to win, the boy turns himself into a car tire. Loosely inspired by the director’s childhood, this animation pulls us into the surreal car racing world.
SKIN & BONE – Directed by Eli Powers (US)
A drifter, Christian takes a job on a secluded farm run by a woman named Serene. Christian soon begins having terrible nightmares. One night, a white horse appears and warns him of a curse that envelops the land, perpetuated by its sole owner, Serene. Deteriorating mentally and physically, and buckling under the burden of his prophetic dreams, Christian must ultimately decide whether to trust his instincts, no matter how violent or terrifying.
SKYWARD – Directed by Jessica Bishopp (UK)
Young birdwatchers, Mya and Arjun, feel the pressure of climate change and the biodiversity crisis greatly. Although they feel isolated and judged by others, they are determined to stand up for what they believe in; coming of age in the age of climate chaos.
SMILE – Directed by Jonas Forsman (Sweden)
GroM wakes up one morning to find that his mouth is stuck in a sour face. He wants to be happy and smile! His friend LobO comes visiting and together they embark on a journey to find GroM’s smile. They try with a circus visit and with magic potions but in the end, a hug from a good friend was all that was needed.
SOFT ANIMALS – Directed by Renee Zhan (UK/US)
Two ex-lovers cross paths at a train station.
SOLAR ECLIPSE – Directed by Alireza Ghasemi, Raha Amirfazli (Iran/France)
Saaghi and her two friends have come to the largest park in Teheran to take pictures of the one-in-a-century total eclipse announced later in the afternoon. Mischievous and rebellious, they steal a camera stand, lie to their parents and discuss boys as well as an upcoming party. Their wanderings lead them to a remote part of the park. As the sun disappears, Saaghi sees something that should have stayed hidden.
SOME STILL SEARCH – Directed by Nesaru Tchaas (US)
A drama featuring first-time immigrant actors, this story of a family torn apart by an ICE raid follows the simultaneous experiences of a woman in detention, and the 5-year-old boy she’s left behind. Their separation gives rise to an unexpected relationship when a stranger is faced with parenting her child. We feel the proximity of the immigration system to the characters, and witness them make decisions about the positions they’re in: choices grounded in their spirit, in the very human thing that makes them individuals.
SOTAVENTO – Directed by Marco Salaverria (Venezuela/Cuba)
Every night Matías and Salvador wait for the call of their grandfather that narrates the fabulous deeds of the fisherman Sotavento. One day, in the morning, they decide to return home. Lost in the woods the mythical Sotavento will attend to help.
STRANGER THAN ROTTERDAM WITH SARA DRIVER – Directed by Lewie Kloster, Noah Kloster (US)
In 1982, the completion of Jim Jarmusch’s sophomore film “Stranger Than Paradise” hinged on producer Sara Driver’s willingness to smuggle one of the world’s rarest and most controversial films across the Atlantic Ocean.
SUCCESSFUL THAWING OF MR. MORO – Directed by Jerry Carlsson (Sweden)
Mr. Moro finds out that his ex-partner Adrian, who has been cryopreserved for the past 43 years, will be thawed and brought back to life. When the staff from ScandiCryonics arrives to pick up the cryo container with Adrian’s body, Milo realizes he might not be ready for Adrian to return.
THE SHAMAN’S APPRENTICE – Directed by Zacharias Kunuk (Canada)
An animated adaptation of an Inuit traditional story from the North Baffin region, “Angkuksajaujuq: The Shaman’s Apprentice” tells the story of a young shaman in training who must face her first test — a trip to the underground to visit Kannaaluk, The One Below, who holds the answers to why a community member has become ill. Facing dark spirits and physical challenges, the young shaman must trust the teachings of her grandmother and mentor, Ningiuq Angakkuq, and learn to control her fear.
TOGETHER – Directed by Albert Shin (South Korea/Canada)
Two anonymous strangers meet in a motel room by the sea.
VIDEO VISIT – Directed by Malika Zouhali-Worrall (US)
Each week, scores of people visit the Brooklyn Public Library to see their incarcerated loved ones via a free video call. This film tells the story of two mothers and their sons, and the librarians who negotiate daily with the Department of Corrections (and a growing for-profit prison telecoms industry) in an effort to keep the families connected.
THE VICTORIAS – Directed by Ethan Fuirst (US)
Every day at the Tenement Museum in New York, ‘costumed interpreters’ took turns performing as Victoria Confino, a 14-year-old Sephardic Jewish immigrant living in 1916. When the Vickies (as the performers were known around the museum) were laid off during the pandemic, they mourned the loss of a unique connection to a long-dead woman and to each other. The Vickies went on camera to reflect on their experience. How does performance change us? Can you love a job that doesn’t love you back? Who has the right to tell someone else’s story?
WARSHA – Directed by Dania Bdeir (Lebanon/France)
Mohammad is a crane operator working in Beirut. One morning he volunteers to take on one of the tallest and notoriously most dangerous cranes in Lebanon. Away from everyone’s eyes, he is able to live out his secret passion and find freedom.
WE SHOULD GET DINNER! – Directed by Eliza Jiménez Cossio, Lexi Tannenholtz (US)
In this chaotic comedy about bottled-up anger and boundaries set in relationships, Abby runs into Sean, her ex-stepbrother, who she has not spoken to since their parents’ ugly divorce. Sean is looking to move on with his life, while Abby is looking for someone to walk her down the aisle. Through their tumultuous night, larger questions about broken relationships are explored: What happens to people who drift from your life? What happens if they come back? What do you want to say to them, if anything at all? And what if it’s not how you expected it to be?
WHITE DEVIL – Directed by Mariama Diallo, Benjamin Dickinson (US)
A horror satire set during quarantine, “White Devil” tells the tale of a Black woman held captive with whiteness as it mutates into a monstrosity. The sole characters of the film are an interracial couple weathering quarantine rather comfortably until the death of George Floyd upends their routine. The woman begins to grow increasingly fearful of her partner, a man outraged by – and later obsessed with – the death of Floyd. As the two grow alienated from each other, their cozy brownstone becomes a hellscape.
THE WINDOW – Directed by Sarah Kaskas (Lebanon)
One year after Beirut’s port explosion, Basma returns to the country despite fleeing in search of her safety and wellbeing. Mariam, her former partner, is hosting a dinner at their old apartment to celebrate her recent marriage to a man. The two women reunite in what used to be their bedroom and cannot avoid discussing their shared trauma and broken relationship. Surrounded by the agonizing view of the port’s remains and the pressure of returning to the dinner, they struggle to find closure in a very short amount of time.
WOMEN OF VIRTUE – Directed by Stéphanie Halfon (France)
Etel, a 9-year-old girl who lives in the Hasidic community in Paris, gets her period for the first time. Her mother Myriam finally looks at her as if she were a woman. Etel is blessed until she finds out that in her religion, women are considered impure when they have their period.
YOU AND ME BEFORE AND AFTER – Directed by Madeleine Gottlieb (Australia)
Hannah (Yael Stone) and Rachel (Emily Barclay) are sisters with baggage. Today, they have agreed to get their first tattoos together. Stuck side-by-side in the chair with nothing to do but talk, they are forced to confront a shared history that’s as painful as it is hilarious.
ᎤᏕᏲᏅ (WHAT THEY’VE BEEN TAUGHT) – Directed by Brit Hensel (US)
Filmed on the Qualla Boundary and Cherokee Nation, ᎤᏕᏲᏅ (“What They’ve Been Taught”) explores expressions of reciprocity in the Cherokee world, brought to life through a story told by an elder and first language speaker. ᎤᏕᏲᏅ circles the intersection of tradition, language, land, and a commitment to maintaining balance. This film was created in collaboration with independent artists from both Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
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